Throughout the probes into Russia-backed efforts to propagate political discord in the United States during the most recent presidential election, officials from the US have said that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) was able to play a major role. Last March, the Department of the Treasury of the US imposed some sanctions on the IRA and 13 other individuals who are believed to have participated in the Russian group in some manner. Last February, a federal jury charged 13 Russian nationals who were connected with the IRA on numerous charges that are related to alleged attempts to interfere with the election in the United States. Facebook has been actively working to remove all the content that were produced by the IRA from its platform. On Tuesday, it took down an additional 70 accounts from Facebook, 65 accounts from Instagram and another 138 Facebook Pages. All of these were believed to be owned and controlled by the group.
Of all the accounts and Pages, Facebook says that approximately 95 percent were written in Russian and were targeted towards individuals who speak in Russian in countries such as Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Today, Facebook said: “The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections.
“It’s why we don’t want them on Facebook. We removed this latest set of Pages and accounts solely because they were controlled by the IRA — not based on the content.”
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, said in a post that some of the accounts belonged to news organizations from Russia that Facebook believes are controlled by the IRA. Approximately one million users followed at least one of the currently removed accounts from Facebook while around 493,000 followed at least one of the accounts on Instagram.
In 2017, Facebook started allowing its users know if they followed Pages that were created by the IRA. Tumblr and Twitter have also been enabled their users to know if they interacted with any content from the IRA. Facebook says that it will soon update its Help Center tool so that users will be able to see if they followed or liked any of the Pages that were recently removed.